How to Grow and Care for a Rubber Tree

Like other plants, Rubber Tree plants have various commercial uses as well as beautiful living trees in our indoor and outdoor spaces! For instance, the sap of the native rubber tree in South and Southeast Asia has latex-loaded fluid to manufacture rubber products. Therefore, we suggest wearing protective gloves when pruning or handling your Rubber Tree plant to avoid dermatitis or allergic reactions if you're sensitive. 

 

 

Easy Care for Rubber Tree Plants

How much light does my Rubber Tree need?

Rubber tree plants will thrive in bright to medium indirect light and survive in lower light for short periods. Lower light intervals may be an option if you want to slow down his growth, but don't put him in a closet! Eastern, southern, or western exposure windows will keep the leaves happier and healthier overall. Keep him out of the direct sun so his leaves don't get sunkissed; otherwise, you may have some brown spots on the leaves and leaf cracking. 

How often do I water my Rubber Tree?

Water well when you receive him if his soil is dry, then allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Use filtered, bottled, or tap water sitting 24 hours to release the chemicals and water enough that the water discharges out of the drainage holes. Once the water is fully drained, replace him back into the eco or decorative pot. During spring and summer, when he is actively growing, he'll use more water when the temperatures are warmer. 


It also depends on how warm you keep your home and where you place him for lighting. The higher the light source, the more watering he will need but don't expect to water him more than once per week. We suggest, for accuracy, getting our 4 in 1 plant meter to take a moisture reading before watering. This gadget will save a lot of wondering and give you a sense of security about watering

 

Does my Rubber Tree plant need humidity?

Rubber tree plants have thicker leaves than a lot of other plants. And just as an FYI, the thicker the leaf, the less amount of humidity the plant needs. Therefore, regular moisture in your home is acceptable at a 45-50% level. When the heat is on in the winter, you may want to use a pebble tray and group your plants to raise the humidity levels around the leaves if you see browning edges. 


Using a mister can add moisture to the leaves and is also a way to wash off the leaf surface. While it won't necessarily raise the humidity levels, it's an excellent way to bond with your rubber plant! So, while you're misting him, you can look closer at his plant health conditions and take steps to alleviate any potential problems for later. 

 

What kind of fertilizer does my Rubber Tree need?

Between the spring months of March through September, use a fertilizer high in phosphorus (middle number) for root development. As the leaves reproduce and the plant develops, swap to a formula high in nitrogen. Then, apply the nutrients monthly during the watering routine. Withhold from fertilizing while the plant rests during the winter.

 

 

How do I prune my Rubber Tree plant?

The best time to prune your Rubber plants is in late spring to early summer if the branches are getting overcrowded. Before starting, put one of our garden gloves on to protect your skin from the sap that can irritate your skin. 


When pruning, never take more than one-third of his leaves off to avoid interrupting his photosynthesis. First, use a sharp blade or clean plant snips to remove dead, damaged, or diseased areas. This trimming will give you a better outlook on what needs removing next. 


Remember to cut the damaged stems back to the parent branch. Then, remove any branches that rub against or interfere with further growth. When removing branches, trim them 1/4" above a node or where new growth begins. 


If the sap drips, we recommend having some paper towels or small rags handy, dipped in water, and rung out to wrap around the nodes until the flow stops. This tip will prevent dripping and hardening on the bottom leaves. To protect your floor from these drips, do the job on our plant repotting mat to protect your carpet or floor. 

 

What do I do with all my cuttings?

Propagate your cuttings into new baby plants! Here's how step by step. 

  1. Take a 6-8 inch cutting between two nodes (where the leaves emerge from the stem) with several leaves on the cutting. 
  2. Remove the bottom set of leaves.
  3. Dip the cuttings in a rooting hormone.
  4. Use a pot with drainage and place the stem in damp, well-draining, moist potting soil mix and tamp down around the stem securing it. 
  5. Place the stem at least 1-2 inches down into the soil. Place a clear plastic bag over the cutting to mimic a greenhouse and mist the bag. Set it in bright, indirect sunlight while they are rooting. 
  6. Check the moisture and humidity daily and add misting to keep the soil moist while the roots are establishing. 
  7. After 6-8 weeks, roots will begin to establish, and you can tug onto the stem to ensure the roots are secure. 

 

When should I repot by Rubber Tree plant?

When receiving your Rubber plant, there is no need to repot immediately. Instead, we recommend waiting at least 6-12 months so he can get acclimated to your environment. Also, don't repot your plant while, at the same time, you're pruning it. Too much stress at any one time can cause a decline in health. 


Here's the best way to transfer your plant into a bigger container. 

  1. Repot in the spring if the roots are beginning to get crowded and growing through the drainage holes. To make the transfer, use a 2" bigger pot. (Too big of a vessel could cause the soil to dry slower, and that may cause root rot.) 
  2. Place a piece of screening at the bottom of the container over the drainage hole to secure the soil and allow it to drain. Use our well-draining indoor potting mix with perlite to help with drainage. 
  3. Water your rubber plant in the old pot before transferring and let it sit for an hour.
  4. Add soil to the bottom of the new pot to elevate the root ball. Lift the plant and release the roots against the existing planter. Use a clean knife or garden trowel to wedge between the pot and the soil to loosen. 
  5. Inspect the root ball. Notice if there are any dead or rotting roots and trim them off with sterile pruners. Cut through the roots to alleviate continued encircling if the plant is rootbound. 
  6. Ensure the plant sits about 1" below the edge of the pot to avoid water spillage. Add more soil and backfill around the sides by tamping down. Fill up to the soil line but not over. 
  7. Water thoroughly, leaving the soil damp but not soggy. If settling occurs, add more soil. 

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